The Spotted Thick-knee, or Spotted Dikkop, prefers open habitats, including fynbos, semi-arid scrublands, grasslands and savanna, but has adapted well to agricultural and urban environments and is often seen in fields, parks and gardens – at night their shrill call has become a familiar sound in our suburbs. They are mostly nocturnal in habit and feed primarily on insects and other invertebrates. Adults weigh around 500g with a wingspan of about 80cm.
Pairs of Spotted Think-knees are monogamous and solitary nesters, although they could assemble in groups of up to 50 outside the breeding season. Their nests are little more than a scrape in the ground, often out in the open but more usually in the shade of a bush or tree, and camouflaged with a few pieces of plants or pebbles, in which a clutch of 1-3 (usually 2) splendidly camouflaged eggs are laid. The parents take turns to incubate the eggs over a period of 4 weeks, and the chicks leave the nest within a day of hatching to move around with their parents. The chicks fledge at about 2 months old. Spotted Thick-knees breed through spring and summer and pairs can raise as many as three broods in a season.
Spotted Thick-knees occur over much of sub-Saharan African, being absent only from the equatorial forests, and is listed as being of least concern by the IUCN. In South Africa they occur over the entire country.